FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG SPEAKS TO PARISHIONERS OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF BROWNSVILLE ABOUT HOW CRIME CAN BE DRIVEN DOWN EVEN FURTHER WHILE CONTINUING TO IMPROVE COMMUNITY RELATIONS
New Data Shows New York City has Drastically Reduced Incarcerations While Drastically Reducing Crime - Bucking the National Trend - Through Crime Prevention Tactics
Mayor:"Not going to walk away from a strategy that we know saves lives…stop, question and frisk needs to be mended, not ended, to ensure that stops are conducted appropriately."
The following are Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's remarks as prepared for delivery this morning in Brooklyn:
"Thank you, Bishop Lyons, and good morning. It's a pleasure to be here with you and I want to thank Bishop Lyons for inviting me. He's been a great leader for this community and I can only hope I have his vim and vigor at age 90. Of course, my mother lived to 102 - so Bishop, in my book, you're still a spring chicken.
"Bishop Lyons has also been great partner for our Administration. He and other ministers have joined with our Police Department to form a police-clergy coalition that has been a big success. Together, they came up with a 10-point action to help stop crime - including gun buybacks and gang interventions. Thanks in part to that work, last year, we set a record in Brooklyn for the lowest number of murders since 1963.
"1963 - as a few of us are old enough to remember - was the year that Dr. King inspired the nation with a speech declaring he had a dream of a better, more just America. Only five years later, a bullet took his life and guns began taking over our streets. Today, the horror of gun violence is still with us. But so is the hope of a better, more just America.
"On this beautiful morning, I'd like to talk about the horror we still face on our streets and the hope we still have in our hearts. Hope has brought all of us here today - to celebrate God, and the life that God gave us.
"It is a precious gift. One that we sometimes take for granted. We go about our day. We have our routines. But then - in the blink of an eye - something can happen. A tragedy can occur - maybe to someone we love. Or someone at work. Or a neighbor. And it makes us realize: There but for the grace of God go I.
"Many of the tragedies involve violence. And the sad reality is that most of the violence in our city happens in communities like this one. Across the city, 90 percent of all murder victims are black and Hispanic - 90 percent.
"This year we are on track to record the lowest number of murders in our city's history. But even though we are safer than ever, in just the first week of June - which was a fairly typical week - we still had 10 murders.
"To their families and loved ones - to their mothers and fathers, their friends and neighbors - those 10 people were not a statistic. They were human beings: Jimmy Albright, age 32, Sheepshead Bay; Kelvis Cueto, age 17, East New York; Ackeem Green, age 25, Harlem; Abdul Garcia, age 24, Hunts Point; Jose Herrera, age 29, Brighton Beach; Anthony Martino, age 23, Wakefield; James Brown, age 24, East New York; Heriberto Suazo, age 26, Harlem; Luis Catalan, age 25, Harlem; Amaury Rodriguez, age 30, Harlem.
"All ten victims were young men - and all ten victims were black or Hispanic.
"In all likelihood, sadly, there will be more murders this coming week and most of them will be black or Hispanic. But I do not accept the idea that black and Hispanic communities will inevitably suffer higher rates of violence than other parts of the city.
"With every ounce of my being, I believe that our city has a responsibility to save lives and drive down crime in every community in our city. And I believe just as strongly that our police department has a responsibility to treat people in every community with the respect they deserve.
"It wasn't long ago when many people didn't think we could do both of those things. In the 1990s, we saw a dramatic reduction in crime, but at the same time, racial tensions were high, and the truth is they had been high for decades.
"When I came into office 10 years ago, many people thought that the only way to keep crime low was to accept the bad blood that came with it.
"Let me be clear: I refused to accept that idea.
"I believed we could drive down crime even lower, while at the same time improving police-community relations. Ray Kelly believed that too; that's why I hired him as Police Commissioner, and it's why Mayor David Dinkins made him commissioner before me.
"From our first days in office, Ray and I have had two goals for the NYPD: Make our streets even safer and to move beyond the old racial battles. We were determined to build on the sense of unity that we felt in the wake of the 9/11 attacks - when divisions of race ceased to matter.
"Over the past 10 years, I've worked hard to move our city forward, in a united way and so has Commissioner Kelly. He's built new bridges to the black and Latino communities - like the Police-Clergy coalition - and he's done an outstanding job diversifying the NYPD.
"In fact, the majority of those with the rank of police officer are minorities. And that's as it should be. The most diverse city in the world deserves the most diverse police department, and we've built it. The diversity of our police department is a major strength. And it is a major reason why we have been able to improve community relations, while also driving down crime to record lows.
"Today, New York is the safest big city in America - by far.
"Boston and Chicago are nice towns, but you are about twice as likely to be murdered there as you are in New York City. You are three times more likely to be murdered in Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. as you are in New York City.
"You are five times more likely to be murdered in Baltimore; eight times more likely to be murdered in Detroit and nine times more likely to be murdered in New Orleans. It wasn't always this way - in fact, the reverse used to be true.
"As I'm sure you remember: it wasn't that long ago when New York was the crime capital of the United States. Nearly everywhere you went back then, there was a sense of danger and it had a devastating effect on our communities, and on our economy.
"Businesses shut down and boarded up. Families pulled up stakes and moved to the suburbs. People avoided the subways at night. More than 2,000 people a year were murdered - many of them only children, and most of them in communities like Central Brooklyn, Harlem, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens.
"That all began to change when Mayor Dinkins signed a law adding 5,000 more police officers to the street - and when he hired Ray Kelly as Police Commissioner in 1992. The Giuliani Administration accelerated the crime reduction, driving it to down to new lows.
"And over the past 10 years, we've cut crime 34 percent below what it was when we took office. I'll tell you what that 34 percent really means.
"It means that if total crime from this past decade had been the same as the decade before: There would have been an additional 5,600 additional people murdered over the past 10 years and more than one million additional people would have been victims of rape, robbery, violent assault, or car theft.
"We know that the vast majority of those victims would have been black and Hispanic - including, in all likelihood, many residents of this community. Thank God they were saved - and they weren't the only ones.
"As we've cut crime, we've also cut the number of people who end up behind bars. In fact, compared to a decade ago, there are 30 percent fewer people behind bars. That means there have been 216,000 fewer incarcerations over the past decade than there otherwise would have been.
"That's 216,000 times that people stayed out of jail - and in their communities.
"As we've cut the number of people behind bars by 30 percent, in the rest of the country, the number has actually gone up - by six percent.
"So not only has New York City had a steeper decline in crime than the rest of the nation, but we did it while decreasing incarceration, unlike in the rest of the country, where it is increasing.
"If we haven't been locking more people up, how have we been keeping more young men away from a life of crime?
"I believe it all starts with education - and we've made huge improvements to the schools over the past decade. Graduation rates have increased by 40 percent and helping kids earn a high school diploma is one of the best ways to keep them out of trouble and on track for a career.
"We've also worked hard to help juvenile offenders get back on track. This year we worked with Governor Cuomo to pass a bill in Albany that will allow more juvenile offenders to stay in their communities - instead of being sent to failing facilities upstate. When they're upstate, they're disconnected from their families, their schools and the community leaders who can help them - and that's why we're bringing more of them home.
"We've also launched the nation's first comprehensive effort - called the Young Men's Initiative - to help black and Latino youth overcome the odds and succeed. George Soros gave $30 million, Bloomberg Philanthropies gave $30 million, and the City is adding another $67 million. We're using that money to begin programs like the new Brownsville Community Justice Center, which is connecting troubled teens to school, work, and mentors.
"If you need any proof that mentors can make an enormous difference in a child's life, just consider the positive influence of a community leader many of you I'm sure knew: Greg Jackson.
"He helped a generation of children to see their God-given potential and his death three months ago was a tragic loss for Brownsville, for our Parks Department, and for our entire city. But we're determined to carry on his work here and all across the five boroughs.
"Our goal is to connect more young men to school and work. Because the fact is even though skin color in America no longer determines a child's fate, sadly, it tells us far more about a child's future than it should.
"Young black and Latino men are twice as likely as white children to drop out of school and twice as likely to end up out of work. How could we possibly sit back and accept that? We can't and we won't. We've taken action over the past decade to begin ending those disparities and we're determined to do even more.
"The worst, most tragic disparity of all is that young black men are 36 times more likely to be murdered - and young Hispanic men are 12 times more likely to be murdered - than young white men, and sadly, they are also far more likely to commit murder.
"I mentioned earlier that 90 percent of all people murdered in our city are black or Hispanic. It's also true that 96 percent of shooting suspects are black and Hispanic. I don't have to tell you about the tragedy of black-on-black crime. And I don't have to tell you that most of the shooters - and victims - are young men.
"Over the past few months, I've been talking with ministers who work closely with young men every day and to the young men themselves. One of the things we've talked about is whether they've had interactions with the police and whether they've been stopped, questioned, and frisked.
"Many of the young people have - and some said they understood why. At the same time, many of them said that their interactions with officers left them angry. Either because of disrespectful language or unnecessary force.
"I would be angry too. And so I understand why some people have called for stops to be eliminated entirely.
"But there is no denying that stops take guns off the street and save lives, and so to borrow a phrase from President Clinton, I believe the practice needs to be mended, not ended, to ensure that stops are conducted appropriately, with as much courtesy as possible.
"The average patrol officer makes one stop every 10 days and conducts a frisk once every 19 days.
"Last year, those frisks produced 780 guns, and 5,872 knives and 1,572 other dangerous weapons. Just as importantly, it unquestionably deterred many from carrying those weapons in the first place.
"By making it 'Too hot to carry,' the NYPD is preventing guns from being carried on our streets. That's our goal: preventing violence before it occurs, not responding to victims after the fact.
"Now, there are also some who say we are stopping too many black and Hispanic young men. Let me say clearly: Racial profiling is wrong and we will not tolerate it.
"That's why Commissioner Kelly has re-issued an order banning it - and it is being reinforced in the NYPD's training. No person should ever be stopped because of his or her race. Stops should be made based on suspicion of criminal activity only and nothing short of that will be tolerated.
"Someone might say: It's unfair that men are stopped more often than women and that young people are stopped more often than old people. I hope we all live to see the day when men commit as few crimes as women and the young commit as few crimes as the old.
"But until that day arrives, we are not going to deny reality.
"In order to prevent crime, police officers have to be able to make stops based on crime reports, not census reports. If we stopped people based on census numbers, we would stop many fewer criminals, recover many fewer weapons and allow many more violent crimes to take place.
"We will not do that. We will not bury our heads in the sand. We can't ever forget who is being killed - and we can't deny what neighborhoods they are being killed in.
"The reason police officers make stops in Brownsville and East New York is not because of race; it is because of crime. Brownsville and East New York remain two of the highest-crime areas in our city. We've cut crime here over the past 10 years, but not by enough. And we are not going to walk away from a strategy that we know saves lives.
"At the same time, we owe it to New Yorkers to ensure that stops are properly conducted and carried out in a respectful way. Commissioner Kelly and I believe we can do a better job in both areas.
"There's no doubt that the NYPD is the best-trained police department in the world, but we can always do better. And when it comes to stops - we must, and we will.
"That's one reason why last year, Commissioner Kelly issued an order to clarify that when officers find someone carrying small amounts of marijuana, rather than making an arrest, a summons should be issued - just as if the marijuana was found in the home. Since then, arrests have dropped by a quarter.
"Last week Commissioner Kelly and I joined Governor Cuomo in supporting an amendment to State law that would effectively codify the directive Commissioner Kelly has put in place. But no matter what happens in Albany, we are already reducing the number of arrests - and keeping more young people from having negative interactions with the criminal justice system.
"In addition, Commissioner Kelly recently announced a number of steps that will help improve how stops are conducted.
"First, we have established a new training course - and created new training videos - to reinforce the proper protocols for stops, and the responsibilities that officers have when they make one.
"Second, the executive officer of each precinct will be responsible for personally conducting an audit of the stop, question, frisk data - to ensure the protocols are being followed and to identify any issues.
"Third: the NYPD has integrated data on stops into their weekly meetings, so that high-level NYPD officers can hold precincts accountable for making sure that stops are properly conducted and performed with dignity.
"Through all of these steps, we will be putting a new emphasis on Courtesy, Respect, and Professionalism, so that when innocent people are stopped and questioned, the interaction does not leave them hurt and angry.
"In addition, because of the success of the Police-Clergy coalition here in Brownsville - thanks to people like Bishop Lyons, Bishop Seabrooks, and Bishop Billups - Commissioner Kelly will soon begin expanding it to other communities around the city.
"Forming partnerships with more pastors will not only help the NYPD fight crime. It will help the NYPD keep its finger on the pulse of the community - so that problems that might otherwise fester can be fixed.
"New Yorkers in every community deserve to be treated with respect. And New Yorkers in every community deserve to be safe. There is no doubt we have come a long way in both areas over the past 10 years, but we can always do more, and will.
"That is my pledge to you.
"I firmly believe that we can drive down crime even further and we can do it while bringing our city even closer together.
"As long as I am mayor, we will not choose between safety and civility. We will demand both and we will continue to do even more to deliver both, to every community in our city.
"Every child is equal and every life is precious and I will do all I can while I'm mayor to see that we protect each one from harm. Thank you, and God bless."
Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
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